Being a landlord is both rewarding and stressful. Finding responsible tenants is only one of the hardships you have to go through. If you want your undertaking to succeed, you have to be prepared for various emergency situations that may occur on your property. A slow or inadequate response during an emergency situation can cost you time, money, efforts, and even make you liable for negligence.
So what kind of emergency situations are we talking about?
Natural disasters: earthquake, flood, hurricane, fire, etc.
Security breaches: break-in, burglary, vandalism, etc.
Tenant emergency: health issues, involvement in crime, death on your property, etc.
Utility failure: no water, gas, electricity, AC, etc.
Life-threatening conditions: gas leak, mold, insect infestation, etc.
The main challenge is that you are not there when an emergency happens. This means your tenants will be taking the first step of notifying appropriate emergency services and you. Your role is to help your tenants protect their lives and possessions, as well as to help authorities and emergency responders do their job.
Bay Property Management Group is here to help property managers get prepared for any emergency situation. Here are a few steps to take.
1) Educate your tenants.
Because most likely they will be the ones dealing with the emergency first-hand, it’s a good idea to provide your tenants with the key knowledge and tools. Create and distribute an emergency plan that should include:
– A phone number to reach you 24/7
– Emergency exits on the property and the location of closest shelters.
– Phone numbers of emergency responders (medics, firefighters, police, etc.). Make sure your tenants know when to call you and when to dial 911.
– Definition of an emergency, as well as situations that don’t constitute emergency, such as slow drains or minor drips. You still need to be notified about those, but not in the middle of the night.
– Helpful information about how to detect problems on early stages.
2) Know your tenants.
It’s easy if you only have one property, but if you own several apartments or the entire apartment building, things get complicated (our Baltimore property management pros know this from experience.) No matter how busy you are, it’s important to keep and update the list of your tenants. Emergency responders might ask you to provide it to make sure everyone is accounted for.
3) Keep your keys and codes organized.
Medics or firefighters might need access to your locked basement, shed, garage or other facility. Make sure you have all the keys organized by property and accurately labeled – this could save someone’s life!
4) Make an emergency calling list.
A flooded basement is not a reason to dial 911, but it’s still an emergency, because the water causes inconvenience to your tenants and damages your property. How fast you respond matters a lot, which is why having a list of reliable contractors who can fix different problems is essential.
Create a calling list to include names, numbers, emails, reliability and availability of different contractors. Make sure that you have at least one contractor per category (plumber, electrician, waterproofer, mason, etc.) who provides 24/7 services. Make copies of this list, so that you can access it anywhere: in your car, at home, at work and even on the go.
5) Advise tenants to get renter’s insurance.
It’s a common misunderstanding among tenants that in case their possessions get damaged, they will be covered under the landlord’s policy. This is not true, and it’s a good idea to inform your tenants about renter’s insurance. It will cost anywhere between $15 and $30 a month and will be useful in case of property damage by fire, flood, storm or theft.
As you can see, the preparation might take some time, but at the end it’s worth it. It leaves no room for panic and lets you respond to any crisis situation in a timely and effective manner. Does it feel like too much? Our Maryland property managers can take care of everything for you. We have emergency plans set up for each of our clients and being on call 24/7 is a part of our job. Let us know if you need help taking care of your rental property.